These are tough times for coal in the USA, but the USA is a global exception. Globally 2012 was coal's greatest year since 1970. Coal provided the world 29.9% of all its energy, its highest market since 1970.
Here are more highlights from the BP 2013 Statistical Energy Review showing that happy days are here for coal around the world. While global energy consumption rose 1.8%, coal consumption rose more quickly at 2.5%. Global coal production also increased 2%.
That adds up to 2012 being an exceptionally good year for coal around the world, with the notable exception of the USA
Among leading coal countries, coal consumption and production declined only in the USA, where consumption and production dropped 11.9% and 7.5% respectively. With coal consumption and production dropping in the USA, coal needed a great year in China and got it. Chinese coal consumption and production dwarfs that of every other nation.
On top of enormous Chinese demand for coal, increases in India, Germany, United Kingdom, and other less likely nations in Europe served as icing on the cake for coal in 2012.